W-M brings home city’s lone state title
The past decade in big schools boys basketball produced a single championship team, but the lone title celebration was a big one, when Washington-Marion won the second state championship in school history, on home soil, beating Ellender 65-58 in the 2017 Class 4A state championship game.
The leader of that team, forward Christian Edwards, is the Most Valuable Player on the American Press All-Decade Team. The team honors the top area players from the 2010-11 through 2019-20 seasons.
Coach of the Year is Washington-Marion’s Albert Hartwell, who guided the Charging Indians to the state championship.
The high-flying Edwards averaged 15 points per game as a senior, including a 13 point, 11 rebound performance in the championship game. Edwards earned two Louisiana Sports Writers Association first-team all-state honors in his career and is currently a member of the University of Alabama track and field team.
Hartwell was twice named LSWA coach of the year, earning the honor in 2016, when W-M reached the championship game before losing to Bossier, and repeating the next year after winning the school’s first championship since 1987. The two championship games were the only finals appearances by an area big school (Classes 5A-3A) in the decade.
Another high-flyer, Mark Vital, is also on the first team. Vital earned a pair of All-Southwest Louisiana MVP awards and a first-team all-state honor in two years at W-M before transferring to two Texas schools for his final two years of high school. Vital, a forward for the Baylor Bears, earned a spot on the Big 12 Conference All-Defensive team this season.
The St. Louis tandem of P.J. Hardy and Kelvin Henry earned first-team honors for helping the Saints to consecutive semifinal appearances in 2015 and 2016. Hardy played collegiately at Louisiana-Lafayette while Henry played at McNeese State and LSU-Shreveport.
Rounding out the first team is Hayden Gunter of South Beauregard, a sharpshooter who averaged 22.2 points per game as a senior in 2016-17, earning second-team all-state honors.
On the second team are DeRidder forward Randy Gladney (2018 All-Southwest Louisiana MVP, ULL signee), Jennings shooting guard Draylan Perkins (three-time honorable mention all-state), W-M guard Javandon Staves (2012 All-Southwest Louisiana MVP, played at Eastern New Mexico Junior College) Westlake forward Jacory Washington (two first-team All-Southwest Louisiana selections, played football at LSU) and LaGrange center Darrell Washington (two first-team All-Southwest Louisiana selections and two all-state honorable mentions).